• November 21, 2014

Killeen school board seeks changes to state law

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Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 4:30 am

Killeen Independent School District board members approved several proposed resolutions that may end up in front of the state Legislature in January.

The changes, approved Tuesday, will be submitted to the Texas Association of School Boards, which will lobby the Legislature for changes in school-related bills.

Killeen school board members elected to oppose provisions in Senate Bills 393 and 1114, which removed the right of police to ticket schoolchildren for class C misdemeanors on school property. Both bills became law in the last legislative session.

The new law requires students to go through a school’s disciplinary system and diversionary programs instead of going through law enforcement’s ticketing process, municipal courts and juvenile probation officers.

Class C misdemeanors, the lowest level of criminal offenses, include disruptive behavior, simple assault and minor in possession of alcoholic beverages or tobacco, among others. They carry fines up to $500 per offense and can be included in a child’s criminal record.

In Texas, skipping school for more than three days in a month or more than 10 days in six months also is a class C misdemeanor.

The reasoning behind the 2013 bill, according to legislators, was to provide an alternative to minor-offending students who were entering the judicial system and facing severe court costs and fines. Prior to the bill’s passage, there were no alternatives.

Before the law’s enaction, juvenile probation officers were mainly dealing with truancy cases, according to legislative documents.

“Currently, the ability of the school district to deal with certain major offenses is limited,” said Robert Muller, Killeen ISD superintendent, at the meeting. “When students choose to verbally or physically assault a staff member, then the district should have the right to issue citations to the student who allegedly committed the act.”

Other concerns

School board members also opposed provisions in the Texas Education Code Section 11.1542, which requires school districts to offer facilities for sale first to open-enrollment charter schools within the district.

There are four open-enrollment charter schools in Killeen: Transformative Charter Academy, Killeen Charter Academy, Richard Milburn Academy and Creekview Academy.

“The reason behind the recommendation to propose that provision is that this requirement precludes the opportunity to sell or lease to other entities, even if those other entities are nonprofit, other governmental entities or even for-profit companies,” Muller said, explaining those potential transactions could be more beneficial to the school district.

Officials also proposed provisions allowing the district to opt-out of the Teachers Retirement System of Texas Active Healthcare, a statewide health coverage program enacted in 2002.

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